Welcome to my first blog; I’m Hayley Watson-Greaves, International Grand Prix Dressage Rider, World Class Development rider and Nations Cup team member. I have four super horses, three at Grand Prix level and a youngster, they live amongst various different animals (which you’ll find out more about in later blogs)

I have been riding since I can remember and have made my journey into dressage through showing and eventing. I have been very lucky to have a base at my family home where I grew up; I live close-by in a barn conversion with my fiancé Paul.

Where to Start…..

This year has been one of the best years of my career so far, at the end of last year after being on the World Class Equine Pathway for three years, with my International Horse Rubins Nite aka ‘Squeaky’, we were selected on to the UK Sport National Lottery funded World Class Development [Podium] Programme, which has been one of my goals since joining the World Class Equine Pathway. This year has also been my first year on the European circuit, last year I started with the UK Internationals.

We have had a very successful competition season so far winning the Barcelona CDI3* Grand Prix Freestyle, and being highly placed at Barcelona CDI4*, Saumur CDI3* and Windsor CDI3*. The World Class Programme has been a huge help with nurturing me through these competitions along with my trainer Carl Hester.

The World Class Programme…..

After selection in December 2014, our first squad training session was to follow beginning of January. Unfortunately I missed out on the first 2 days as I had already been booked to do a clinic in Australia way before I knew I had been selected, so after 10 days out in Aus, I drove straight from Heathrow to Addington to join in the last day. My Dad kindly brought ‘Squeaks’ up to Addington to meet me. He only had to have his saddle assessed and I had to ride him briefly to check my position. Bless him he was so pleased to see me, but I think he thought he’d been kidnapped from his home and taken to a strange place only to find his mother was there to greet him.

He was great considering he had had the time off in the field while I was out in Australia, it was great to be back on board although a little jet lagged, and still wearing my flight socks for fear I wouldn’t be able to get my riding boots on. It was great to meet the World Class team and find out what amazing access we had to World Class personnel. That day helped me realise and come to terms, that I am an ‘Elite athlete’. 

All these years I had made sure my horses had everything I could give them; chiropractor, physiotherapist, vet treatment, exercises they need to do to keep on top form, looking at their nutrition and diet. I had neglected myself and needed to make sure I was in peak condition too! This has still taken me time to realise as my horses always come first.

To be told I need to improve my core muscles, my mindset at competitions and at home, along with improving my diet, was quite a revelation! I’d always thought I was in peak condition had an O.K. diet and mind set, but actually I could improve them all!

I have since been to another Squad training; this was a general assessment to see how much I had improved and to keep tabs on weaker areas. We also had a fantastic time training with Tinne Vilhemson-Silfven working on movements that I felt needed improving in the test. In between the sessions its great to be able to select what you think needs work on the most as you can bombarded yourself with too much (like myself as I want to be the best I can be).

So I'm currently focusing on three things to make my performance better; I now have a physiotherapist I see regularly, I make a point of speaking to the World Class sports psychologist and do strength and conditioning work to help improve my core strength and balance. I’ve learnt so much about myself and it’s definitely improving my performance with my horses both in competitions and in day to day riding.